More foreigners travel to China as visa-free policy coverage expands

2024-07-01 09:22:14Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China's unilateral visa-free policy for citizens from Australia, New Zealand and Poland will take effect from Monday, allowing them visa-free entry for up to 15 days for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends or transit.

Visitors from these countries will likely join other foreign tourists who have been enjoying China's visa-free policy, which, together with the resumption of more international flight routes, has greatly boosted the recovery of inbound tourism and resulted in an inbound travel boom.

Local people feel that the visa-free policy is of great benefit, and many have plans to visit China within the year, Wang Jiazheng, president of the Canton Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"When I talked with the general managers of China Southern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Airlines and other airliners in New Zealand, I learned that the flights to China are basically full. And the proportion of New Zealanders is significantly higher than before," said Wang.

The number of direct flights between China and New Zealand has returned to that of pre-pandemic levels. Since the beginning of 2024, inbound tourism orders from New Zealand have increased by nearly 60 percent year-on-year, according to statistics online travel agency sent to the Global Times.

China on June 13 announced that New Zealand is now on the list of visa-free countries. In the 30 minutes following the announcement, searches by New Zealand tourists for China-related keywords increased by 65 percent from the previous day on

A similar response was seen from Australian tourists, whose searches for China-related keywords on surged by 80 percent after China announced the unilateral visa-free policy on June 17.

Travel agency Intrepid Travel said that the company saw an increase of 133 percent in bookings from customers in Australia and New Zealand traveling to China, compared to the week before China announced the visa-free policy, media reported on Friday citing Brett Mitchell, managing director of ANZ at Intrepid Travel.

"The visa-free policy will make it easier for those compatriots who need to return to China for urgent matters but do not have a visa," a Chinese Australian who has lived in Sydney for more than 15 years told the Global Times on Sunday.

The increasingly expanding visa-free "circle of friends" has spurred enthusiasm among foreign tourists for travel to China. In addition to the visa-free policy, foreign nationals from 54 countries are also granted visa-free entry under the 72/144-hour transit policy.

According to the National Immigration Administration, by May 31, a total of 12.09 million foreigners entered China, of whom 7.014 million came under the visa-free policy. The daily average entry number of foreigners was 79,000, up 1.9 times from the same period in 2023.

As of Wednesday, there were a total 49,031 of inbound flights to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, an increase of 91.5 percent year-on-year. Inbound passengers totaled 7.063 million, up 180.2 percent on a yearly basis, the airport announced on Saturday. 

The number of overseas tourists and source countries continued to increase as the summer vacation approaches, Chinese travel agency Spring Tour said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

Overseas tourists who recently came to Shanghai generally stayed in the city for 2-4 nights, and spent about 1,000 yuan ($137.6) per person a day in the city, according to Spring Tour.

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